Mississippi State Basketball Can't Complete Comeback at Texas A&M

Mississippi State basketball gave a valiant effort in the second half, but their comeback attempt fell short in College Station.

Feb 10, 2024; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Chris Jans talks with
Feb 10, 2024; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Chris Jans talks with / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State basketball lost 75-69 to Texas A&M Wednesday night at Reed Arena in College Station. Another poor first half effort put the Bulldogs in a 13-point hole at the break, and the Aggies managed to push their lead out to as much as 23 early in the second half.

State then flipped a switch, quickly cutting the deficit to single digits and eventually getting it down to just a 3-point game in the closing minutes. But the Bulldogs went cold yet again on their final few possessions, allowing the Aggies to close things out.

Mississippi State fell to 19-11 on the season and 8-9 within the SEC.

Texas A&M basketball could not miss in the first half

Texas A&M came out on fire in this one. The Aggies, who entered the game as one of the nation's worst shooting teams, shot 15-25 from the field and a blistering 7-10 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Much of A&M's offensive success came from a pair of unusual suspects. Manny Obaseki and Soloman Washington, who had combined for 10.6 PPG entering tonight, went for 17 and 15, respectively. Both were incredibly productive in the first half, with Washington also making key plays late in the game, and helped the Aggies build out their lead.

Not helping matters was another horrendous offensive start for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were scoreless through the first 5:03 of the game. Josh Hubbard provided a major spark that allowed State to tie the game at 26 with 5:19 left in the half, but then the Aggies closed the period on a 19-6 run.

Valiant second half effort for Mississippi State basketball

Despite another awful start to the game (and then an awful start to the second half), Mississippi State basketball showed no quit. After falling behind by 23 with 16:57 to go in the game, State went on a 22-4 run in just over eight minutes, cutting the lead to five.

Full-court pressure and zone looks from MSU's defense gave the Aggies fits, and A&M's shooting numbers plummeted back towards their averages. The Bulldogs were far more attacking on the offensive end, and it paid off.

State kept the A&M lead to single digits for the remainder of the half, twice getting to within three in the closing minutes. But the Bulldogs went 0-3 shooting on their final three possessions and could not complete the comeback.

Foul trouble and turnovers the difference in the game for Mississippi State basketball

Mississippi State's two best players, Josh Hubbard and Tolu Smith, got into foul trouble early in this one, and that proved costly. Tolu played limited minutes, scoring all eight of his points in the second half. Hubbard still had a big day with 24 points, but after picking up his third foul with under five minutes remaining in the first half, he went to the bench. And during that time, A&M built out a significant lead.

When both players were out, the offense suffered. Deshawn Davis deserves credit for stepping up with 15 points, many of which came in big moments. And DJ Jeffries was fantastic rebounding with 12 boards to help neutralize A&M's biggest strength. But it wasn't enough.

State doubled-up A&M in personal fouls, and the Aggies shot 13 more free throws. Turnovers were a massive issue as well. 12 MSU turnovers, six of which were attributed to Cam Matthews, led to 18 A&M points. Sloppy play on the road killed Mississippi State yet again.

Mississippi State basketball is falling back towards the NCAA Tournament bubble

After a three-game losing streak, Mississippi State basketball is trending in the wrong direction both in terms of their play on the court and their likelihood of reaching the NCAA Tournament. None of these losses have been bad, but as other teams strengthen their resumes to move up seed lines, State is treading water.

As a result, the Bulldogs are inching back closer to the bubble. They'd still be safely in the field as of today and would need a lot to go wrong to miss the tournament, but they're keeping the chances of that happening alive.

Incredibly, all bracketologists still agree that just one more win would be enough to lock Mississippi State basketball into the tournament. They have to find one more complete performance to make that happen. State will get a chance in its regular season finale against a dangerous South Carolina squad on Saturday in Starkville.